Treehouses are no longer mere forts erected in trees for children, so that they can scramble up high and get lost in imaginary worlds in amongst the branches. Now the leafy platforms of our youth have hit the big time. There are hotels in trees, treetop hideaways, and treehouses that promise solitude and seclusion in inspiring forest locations, for those unafraid of heights.
Hotels are no longer ‘just’ hotels. To out market the next establishment they have had to do more than place a roof over your head. Going out on a limb, the treehouse trend has resulted in places like Les Cabanes du Bois Landry, in France; TreeHouse Point, in America; and Cabanes als Arbres, in Spain.
Not to be outdone South Africa has its fair share of treehouse stays around the country, but particularly in some of our top game parks.
We’ve selected 8 amazing treehouse stays in South Africa for you to choose from …
Another honeymoon treehouse, this time on a working wine and fruit farm and spa in the foothills of the Saronsberg Mountains, just outside historic Tulbagh. This treehouse might not come with the calls of the wild, but it is set away from the other treehouses, creating an intimate hideaway – think rose petals and chocolates; breakfast delivered to your room.
The honeymoon treehouse overlooks the watering hole on the farm (where wildebeest, zebra and springbok come to drink). But then every treehouse at Vindoux has a full en-suite bathroom and wide, private stoep overlooking orchards and mountains, from which to enjoy breakfast. Don’t forget to visit Moniki Chocolates just outside Tulbagh whilst you’re in the neighbourhood.
In the bushlands of Zululand are a series of little wooden treehouses on stilts set in amongst the trees of a sand forest. This time on a 4000 hectare game farm that is also a natural heritage site for its diversity of habitats and scenic views out over False Bay and St Lucia.
Bonamanzi is plentifully stocked with game – elephant, leopard, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippo and a variety of antelope, warthog and hyena. Their bird life, in particular, is remarkable, and they are only 20 minutes’ drive from the Hluluwe Imfolozi Park.
Think of a childhood dream of living in a treehouse – something like the magic faraway tree – then add handcrafted wood interiors, a tented bedroom, a wooden open-to-the-elements bathroom, and a wooden deck and you’ve got some idea of Teniqua Treetops.
Eight, beautifully crafted eco-friendly treehouses lie hidden in amongst an indigenous forest filled with thousand year-old trees, on the Garden Route. We are not biased. But we have stayed there.
Jaci’s Tree Lodge has a couple of serious advantages. One: it’s set in one of the country’s favourite game reserves – Madikwe. Two: the eight luxury treehouses lie in amongst a canopy of lush Tamboti and Leadwood trees. Each treehouse is colourful, beautifully decorated, spacious, filled with light and complete with huge, comfortable bed, outdoor ‘jungle’ shower, and stone bath.
Raised wooden walkways link the rooms to the lodge. The trees are a haven for birds, game drives are, by all accounts, excellent and the lodge has recently launched a specialised photographic safari vehicle to add further impetus to the photographic safaris with resident photographer, Andrew Aveley (but check his residency dates before booking).
Lion Tree Top Lodge’s treehouses pale by comparison to the highlight of any visit here – walking with lions. So whilst we know that you’ll enjoy the low-key tented, and wooden, treehouses with large decks, sunken baths and outside showers, it is the chance to walk alongside white lions (two beautiful female, white lions raised after they were orphaned) through the bush that has received rave reviews.
Breakfast, high tea and dinner is included and the time around the firelight in the boma, with your hosts, is also described as unforgettable.
BONA NTABA TREE HOUSE LODGE, HOEDSPRUIT
The four thatched, wooden treehouses on stilts at Bona Ntaba are ideal to book as a group whose aim it is to spend time together and enjoy the highlights of a game lodge. In this way you get exclusive use of the camp, kitchen, pool, boma, and the waterhole.
This is one of the most beautiful, and reasonable, ways to have a bush experience within the comfort of a lodge. Highlights include: views of the distant mountains across the savannah, and animals that walk right past your deck, outdoor showers, starry nights, and peace and quiet.
PEZULU TREE HOUSE LODGE, HOEDSPRUIT
This small but exclusive, game lodge is a series of eight thatch and reed treehouses built around the trees, so as not to affect them, so don’t be surprised to find massive branches as part of your accommodation.
Dream Treehouse, built across two marula trees, and the Honeymoon suite, erected on two levels with its sunken bath and views over the waterhole and distant Drakensberg Mountains (there is also a family of bush babies that appear to have moved into the trees near the suite), are particularly beautiful. Bush walks and dinner around a fire in the boma are highlights.
Specially for honeymooners, Lion Sands Game Reserve has erected a wooden platform high up in the top of an ancient Jackalberry tree. In amongst the branches is the most romantic ‘bush bedroom’ known simply as Chalkley’s Treehouse – a lavish and secure platform under the stars with all the creature comforts, yet exposed to the calls of the wild. The lodge is a good 15 minutes’ drive from the lodge, so completely private.
Depending on your idea of romance, just you and your loved one in the middle of the bush is one incredible first night of your honeymoon experience. Forget Wi-Fi, you won’t even sleep given the number of stars, the moon travelling through the night sky and the sounds of the bush around you. An experience to treasure forever.
The treehouse, overlooking a little dam in the midst of a grove, at Osfontein has to be one of the most romantic venues in the Karoo. The views from the wooden terrace, handcrafted by Stegmann in his spare time, look out over the Karoo plains, hills in the distance.
Your venue for the night is a luxury tent, which contains a romantic double bed (handmade by the owner’s son who crafts furniture for sale in Oudtshoorn) and en suite shower that overlooks the water. On the backside of the tent is space to watch for birds that swoop between the trees of the grove, dipping on wing to drink as they fly. There are no other tree houses on the farm, and no-one will disturb your escape. But book quickly, as it’s only available September to April (the rest of the year is too cold!).